Becoming a landlord: Maintenance

After you get a tenant for your rental property it’s time to sit back and rake in the cash right?  Um, NO!

Rental properties require a lot of work!  This work doesn’t end after you get a tenant.  It just changes into different sorts of work.  As a landlord, you need to remain proactive and vigilant.

Original by Christian Schuit at http://www.flickr.com/photos/christianschuit/4592831096/

Maintenance and Inspections

If you’re renting a property, whether you live there or not, regular yearly inspections should be on your to-do list.  I don’t mean marching through your property with drug sniffing dogs or demanding your tenant let you inspect their bathroom closet – I mean checking up on things like smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms.  And while you’re checking those, it certainly doesn’t hurt keep your eyes open for anything naughty your tenants might be up to…   😉

It’s also a good opportunity to ask your tenants if they’ve noticed anything wrong with the suite.  Many tenants will not report minor issues.  But small things like a leak in a kitchen faucet could lead to a bigger water bill down the road.  If you ask them directly, you’ll get a heads up on potential problems.

For example, my parents rented to a lady who did not tell them that only one out of four burners on her stove was working!  It was great that she didn’t want to bother my parents, but at the same time, it caused them more money when new tenants came in, found a 1/4 functioning stove, and a new stove had to be purchased unexpectedly.

Property Improvements

I strongly recommend improving your property over time.  Why?  It’s easier to save up $500-1000 each year for minor improvements, it’ll show your tenants that you are proactive, and it adds value to your property.

That’s not to say that you should give your tenants a brand new kitchen or bathroom remodel.  But you should definitely do simple additions that add value to your property.

For example, in our condo, we recently added a dishwasher.  This cost us only $750, including plumbing and electricity.  It increases the value of our condo by adding functionality (who the hell remodels a kitchen and leaves an empty space where the dishwasher is supposed to go?!).  It also increases the value of our condo as a rental property (there’s a lot of people out there who don’t like to do dishes!).  It made our tenants VERY happy, so hopefully they’ll stick around that much longer.

Other simple things:

  • Replace doors, especially older bi-fold doors which are hard to open
  • Add window screens to keep out the bugs
  • Provide additional functionality, such as replacing a single tub sink with a double sink

Things I would NOT do until tenants move out:

  • Painting – Too much work and new tenants will want new paint anyways.
  • Carpets/flooring – Renters will not take care of your carpet/flooring, so don’t expect them to!  Let them wear it out and then replace it for the next renter.  It’s also easier to do in an empty apartment.
  • Anything that involves drywall – Working with drywall generates a lot of dust.  Your tenants will not thank you for covering their possessions in bits of drywall.

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I have tried to do these things with our rental condo.  So far, our tenants seem pretty happy.  Any other landlords out there with suggestions?

Posted in: Real Estate

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